The city of Lewistown said goodbye to an influential member of its community last week with the passing of long-time resident John Levingston.
LEWISTOWN — The city of Lewistown said goodbye to an influential member of its community last week with the passing of long-time resident John Levingston.
Levingston's loved ones reflected on his accomplishments and kind personality shortly after his passing.
"He was a great person, (a) great dad," Levingston's son Justin said, adding that his father was "a role model for everyone."
Levingston served as Lewistown Police Chief for 21 years before working as a police training coordinator at the Western Illinois Police Training Unit in Galesburg. While working at the Lewistown Police Department, he also served as a DARE officer.
"He loved his law enforcement," said Cindy, Levingston's wife of 37 years. She noted that while training part-time officers, her husband would always tell them "if it starts to feel like a job, it's time to get out."
Cindy recalled how Levingston, as police chief, once stayed up for two or three days straight, working on salvaging the remains of a fire at Weirauch Florist.
In addition to his police career, Levingston also worked as a substitute teacher at Lewistown High School and as the "voice of the Lewistown Indians" at athletic games.
According to Cindy, Levingston was offered the job as an announcer by then former teacher Keith Johnson, who thought the recent Lewistown High School graduate would be a good fit. And Johnson was right.
"The kids all had respect for him and he respected them," she said, adding that Levingston also served as a track official and was once an honorary parade marshall for the school's homecoming parade.
There is also a track event named after him, called "John Levingston Relays."
Throughout his life, Levingston was very active in the community, being involved in several organizations including the Scottish Rite Valley of Peoria, Mohammed Shrine of Bartonville and the Illinois Police Association. Levingston served as the secretary for the Lewistown Lodge 104, president of the Illinois Street Christian Church Board and the Lewistown Historical Society and past patron of the Order of the Eastern Star.
More recently, he served as an administrative aid to the Grand Lodge of Illinois.
"He's always been a hometown person," Cindy said, noting how Levingston and his father had a tradition of playing Santa in town. His father played the part of Santa for several years before his passing, and then Levingston continued the practice.
He also helped form a 4th of July Committee to start funds for fireworks. The committee continued for a few years before other organizations took over the responsibility.
"Everyone spoke highly of him and respected him," she said, adding that he was a "very generous, heartfelt family man" who always put others first and never said a bad word against anyone.
Craig Miller, a close friend of Levingston, noted the former police chief was "a giver as well as a pranker."
Miller said they would pull various pranks on each other, such as Miller sending him odd, anonymous notes while Levingston was announcing school games to meet at the concession stand.
"He was an all around good guy," Miller said. "He's going to be missed by a bunch of people."
Darren Winkler is another close friend of Levingston, whom he met when he first moved to Lewistown in 1991.
"John was an unbelievably caring and big-hearted human being who donated many, many hours to our community," Winkler said. Winkler added that not many people will go that extra mile for their community like Levingston did. "He will be sadly missed."
Even before Levingston was an adult, he was involved in the community, being active in Boy Scouts as a child and helping his dad run a movie theater in town for several years. While in high school, he worked as a trainer for football and basketball teams.
Since Levingston's passing last week, Cindy said she has received an "outpouring" of emails and calls of condolences, as well as flowers from several police departments including Fulton County, McDonough County, Canton, Blandsville and others.
Though bad weather restricted travel for some, Cindy said around 100 people came to her husband's funeral services and celebration of life last weekend.
On Levingston's life, Cindy said she wants people to remember "his kindness to everyone and his happy smile."